With impeccable timing, Cassani has written a book, Go: An Airline Adventure, extracts from which will be running in The Times next week. The book is interesting, among other things, for its discussion of the naming of the airline – The Bus was one of the less flattering alternative suggestions – and for its inside take on the awful BA culture.
Cassani is an outspoken admirer of Bob Ayling, the former BA chief executive.
He gave Cassani her big break and helped make Go a reality. We are treated to the inside story of how Ayling was sacked by BA, and how he kept it a secret so as not to spoil the launch of his pet project, the London Eye.
Cassani steered Go through a management buyout with the view to taking it to flotation and felt badly let down when the principal investor, 3i, sold out to easyJet, fronted by Stelios Haji-Ioannou. She still feels bitter. But it made her millions, and left her free to take up the Olympic challenge.
Whatever happens with the Olympics, Cassani is perfectly suited to the role of non-executive director. She has just taken her first such appointment with Marks & Spencer – but is reluctant to take on too much. With only a handful of women directors in the FTSE100, and boards crying out for diversity, she makes a great addition to the directors’ club.
Cassani is clearly no push over. FTSE100 chairmen who think they are taking on a token pretty face could be in for a nasty shock.
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